Following in the tire tracks of one of the best-selling Xbox Live Arcade games of all time, "Trials HD," was surely no easy task, but developer RedLynx has successfully navigated the course to create a second must-have title with "Trials Evolution."
The core gameplay in "Trials Evolution" returns practically unchanged from the exaggerated physics-driven motorcycle racing that made "Trials HD" such a hit. Also unchanged is the rage-inducing difficulty that comes with trying and failing -- over and over and over again -- while attempting to reach the finish line of some awe-inspiring tracks.
It is that insane difficulty, and the sheer joy that comes with conquering some downright diabolical obstacles, that makes "Trials Evolution" a truly addictive experience. The lengthiest of the bite-sized tracks takes only a minute or two to complete, and there are plenty of checkpoints on each course that save your progress, which comes in handy since you're constantly hitting the reset button after repeatedly failing a jump. Reaching the end of a course is a great moral victory, but that's only the beginning. Chasing silver and gold medals and competing against your friends for top times on the leaderboard is the real appeal in "Trials Evolution."
While "Trials Evolution" has a great deal in common with its predecessor, this is much more than a bare-bones follow up. For starters, RedLynx has taken the action outside of the warehouse that served as the backdrop for "Trials HD." The new courses not only serve to show off the physics-driven gameplay with death-defying drops and jumps and new curved racing lines, but the stages cover everything from a Normandy-style beach invasion and a ride through a haunted forest to a "Limbo"-themed level complete with monochromatic color scheme.
"Trials Evolution" offers countless hours of content for solo players, but the addition of competitive multiplayer races adds a whole new element to the game. Up to four players (locally or across Xbox Live) can go head-to-head in races that look remarkably similar to "Excitebike" but retain all the glorious madness that comes along with "Trials." There are only a handful of multiplayer courses available, but another of the game's big additions -- user-created tracks -- makes that a moot point.
Yes, players can now create and share their own custom courses for both single and multiplayer modes. Admittedly there is a fairly steep learning curve when it comes to using the same editing tools RedLynx used to build the default tracks, but even though the game has only been available for a little more than a week, there are already some truly amazing user creations available. I can't wait to see what creative gamers have in store for the future.
With new features like multiplayer and user-created content, "Trials Evolution" more than lives up to its name. But it is that easy-to-learn, impossible-to-master gameplay that makes this such a devilishly delightful experience. And at only $15, "Trials Evolution" is a steal. Just make sure to hang on to the money you save -- you may need it to buy a new controller!
Available for: Xbox 360 ($15)
Rating: E 10 for everyone 10-and-up